Foregut fermentation in the hoatzin, a neotropical leaf-eating bird

Alejandro Grajal, Stuart D. Strahl, Rodrigo Parra, Maria Gloria Dominguez, Alfredo Neher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The only known case of an avian digestive system with active foregut fermentation is reported for the hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin), one of the world's few obligate folivorous (leaf-eating) birds. Hoatzins are one of the smallest endotherms with this form of digestion. Foregut fermentation in a flying bird may be explained by increased digestive efficiency by selection of highly fermentable and extremely patchy resources, coupled with microbial nutritional products and secondary compound detoxification. This unexpected digestive system gives a new perspective to the understanding of size limitations of vertebrate herbivores and to the evolution of foregut fermentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1236-1238
Number of pages3
Issue number4923
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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